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Roads Australia Insider - 25 November

 


Infrastructure funding brought forward to fast-track projects

A swag of major road projects will move closer to the finish line in the wake of the Prime Minister’s announcement last week that $3.8 billion in infrastructure spending would be brought forward over the coming four years, including $1.8 billion in the current and next financial years.

The projects to benefit include the M1 in Queensland, Tonkin Highway in WA, the Monash Freeway in Victoria, the Princes Highway in NSW and SA’s North-South corridor in Adelaide.

Announcing the funding package, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government had been working with states and territories since its re-election last May to bring forward critical road projects across Australia, as part of its $100 billion pipeline.

Highlights of the package are:

  • in Victoria, $262 million brought forward for early works on the North East Link and more than $184 million in additional funding for the Monash Freeway Stage 2;
  • an additional $32.6 million for the South Gippsland Highway realignment between Koonwarra and Meeniyan and $28.7 million for the Echuca-Moama Bridge
  • a $570 million infrastructure package for NSW which includes $200 million for the Newell Highway upgrades package and the delivery of Inland Rail, $185 million for the Toowoomba to Seymour (NSW section) Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) package, and $145 million for the Princes Highway corridor, including the Milton-Ulladulla Bypass;
  • in Queensland, $225.6 million for Bruce Highway upgrades, $118.5 million for Roads of Strategic Importance (ROSI) initiative upgrades, $94.3 million for M1 Pacific Motorway upgrades, and $90 million for the North Coast Rail Line Upgrade between Beerburrum and Nambour;
  • in WA, $283.6 million for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road, $159.9 million for Tonkin Highway Gap, $156.7 million for the Karratha to Tom Price Corridor and $82.8 million for the Albany Ring Road; 
  • in SA, $328 million in federal funding across six projects - the Darlington Upgrade and Flinders Link Projects as part of Adelaide's North-South Corridor, the Eyre Highway and Eyre Peninsula and Horrocks Highway corridors, Victor Harbor Road duplication and a major rural roads upgrade;
  • in Tasmania, $46.4 million for Bass Highway Corridor improvements (including Marrawah to Wynyard and Cooee to Wynyard), $45 million for the Hobart to Sorell Corridor (including the Hobart Airport Interchange) and $41.9 million for the Midland Highway Upgrade; and
  • in the NT, $91.7 million for upgrades on the Alice Springs to Darwin road corridor, $54.3 million for the Adelaide River to Wadeye road corridor and $37.5 million for upgrades on the Outback Way.

Gender equality moving modestly and unevenly, according to WEGA

More Australian employers are taking action to promote gender equality in their organisations, but the pace of change is modest and uneven according to the latest data from the Federal Government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

Released this month, the sixth year of WGEA data shows the strongest progress towards workplace gender equality are in those areas where employers have a direct influence on the outcome. There's been incremental growth in employer action on overall gender equality policies and strategies, pay equity and flexible work.

The stand-out result is a substantial increase in employer action on family and domestic violence. There's  been a 13.3 percentage point (pp) jump in the number of employers with a policy or strategy on family and domestic violence and an 8.9 pp increase in employers offering paid domestic violence leave.

This year’s findings also show a small increase in the representation of women in management.. However the number of female CEOs has not changed, remaining at 17.1per cent for the second year in a row. Access to paid parental leave has improved but more than 50 per cent of employers offer no paid parental leave.

The Agency’s Director, Libby Lyons, says the latest results demonstrate the importance of measuring gender equality outcomes in Australian workplaces.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 equal pay decision which first saw Australian women win the right to be paid the same as men for doing the same work, or work of equal or comparable value,” said Ms Lyons.

“Yet 50 years on, women and men still have very different experiences of work. Our data shows that pay gaps favouring men persist in all industries, occupations and manager categories. I always welcome a reduction in the gender pay gap, but a drop of only 0.5 percentage points is slow progress by anyone’s measure.

“After six years, the Agency’s data shows that when employers take action, it makes a difference. Women’s promotions and appointments to managerial roles are rising every year. Over seven in ten employers now have policies or strategies to support gender equality or promote flexible working. Action on addressing pay equity continues to grow.

“However, our data also highlights some key problem areas. Despite an improvement in the provision of paid parental leave, over half of the employers in our dataset do not offer it. Women are still hitting the glass ceiling at the highest levels. The number of women CEOs has stalled and Australia’s boardroom tables remain dominated by men."

Key Findings: 2018-19 data

Gender pay gap

  • The total remuneration gender pay gap is 20.8% (down 0.5pp)
  • Men out-earn women by $25,679 a year on average
  • The pay gap in favour of men barely shifted the female-dominated industry of Health Care and Social Assistance (up 1.2pp from 14.7% in 2015-16 to 15.9% in 2018-19)

Family and domestic violence

  • Big increase in employer action on family and domestic violence
  • 13.3pp jump in employers with a policy or strategy (up to 60.2%)
  • 8.9pp increase in employer provision of paid domestic violence leave (up to 30.3%)

Parental leave

  • Six-year high in the provision of employer-funded paid parental leave but over half the employers in the Agency’s dataset still do not offer it
  • Access is variable and highly dependent on the size and industry of the employer
  • 49.4% of employers offered paid primary carer’s leave (up 1.6pp)
  • 43.8% of employers offered paid secondary carer’s leave (up 2.0pp)

Lack of women at CEO and Board level

  • The glass ceiling is still a barrier for women at top leadership levels
  • No change from last year’s figures in the number of female CEOs (17.1%)
  • Only a 1.0pp increase in the number of female board directors (up to 26.8%)

Flexible work

  • More employers are promoting flexible work (up 2.0pp to 72.7%)
  • But an action gap remains: only 5.6% have set targets for employee engagement and only 2.3% have set targets for men’s engagement

Women in management

  • Women now comprise 39.4% of all managers in the WGEA dataset
  • 43.8% of manager promotions and appointments went to women

Pay equity

  • Increased employer action on pay equity
  • 3.1 pp increase in the number of employers doing a pay gap analysis (up to 44.7%)
  • But an action gap remains as almost 40% of these employers took no action to close their pay gaps

Gender equality policies and strategies

  • Continued growth in employers implementing gender equality policies and strategies
  • >Over three-quarters of employers now have a gender equality strategy or policy
  • Only 32.2% have implemented KPIs for managers relating to gender equality outcomes 

Transport reforms — On the right track but running late

Reform in the transport sector has been disappointingly slow and has not delivered the expected productivity gains, according to a draft report released by the Productivity Commission.

"After eight years, we have largely achieved national consistency in the safety regulation of heavy vehicles, boats and trains but there is still much more to be done," said Productivity Commissioner Paul Lindwall.

"Creating national regulators and laws was ambitious and has taken longer than anticipated. The pace of reform has picked up recently but more action is needed to deliver the expected safety and productivity gains." 

The draft report says the gains from reform are modest, with the main benefits likely to be lower compliance costs for businesses and a lift in heavy vehicle productivity from improving access to local roads.

Regulatory reform has not come at the expense of safety — safety outcomes continue to improve in the road and rail sectors. Fatalities in the rail sector have fallen by 50 per cent over the past ten years. Crash rates for heavy vehicles continue their long-term decline.

National consistency is useful but it is more important to have fit-for-purpose regulation, the draft report says. The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is inflexible, encouraging an old-fashioned ‘tick the box’ attitude to safety rather than innovative risk management. The Commission supports moves to make the HVNL less prescriptive and more focused on results than rules.

Moving to national regulation should be seen as one practical step towards improving safety and productivity. But more efficient trucks and use of the road network are key to containing costs and congestion, with road freight expected to grow by about 50 percent over the next 20 years, the draft report says.

"Achieving the productivity gains predicted in 2011 will require much more than regulatory reform of safety. Governments need to continue and, in some cases accelerate, broader reforms to infrastructure investment, its use and management, and pricing of access," Mr Lindwall says.

The draft report is available at www.pc.gov.au and open for comment until 15 January 2020.

Port Wakefield Overpass and Duplication Project to get bigger and better

The South Australian Government has announced  an expansion to the scope of the  Port Wakefield Overpass and Duplication Project to deliver better traffic and road safety outcomes. The expanded project will be delivered for $122.5 million.

SA Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll says following detailed design work and consultation with the local community, the project has been expanded to include a two-way overpass and other safety improvements. 

The new expanded project scope includes;

  • two lanes in each direction through the Port Wakefield Township with provisions for safe U-turn movements;
  • a realigned dual carriageway through the Port Wakefield Township, allowing for increased parking and landscaping opportunities, as well as safer vehicle and pedestrian movements. This will make it safer to build and reduce disruption to motorists during construction;
  • a realigned Balaklava Road intersection with the Port Wakefield Highway, allowing for safer turn movements;
  • new bridges across the Wakefield River; and
  • a new two-lane overpass for traffic traveling southbound from the Copper Coast Highway to Port Wakefield, and for traffic travelling along the Augusta Highway to the Copper Coast Highway. 

The new overpass will also now remove all hazardous at-grade turn movements at the intersection of the Port Wakefield Highway, Copper Coast Highway and Augusta Highway. 

Major construction works are expected to begin in 2020, with completion expected in 2022.

‘Connecting People’ proposal stands out at Fellowship Workshop

A scalable school engagement tool kit aimed at increasing numbers in engineering and roads has been awarded the top group project at this month’s RA Fellowship end-of-year workshop.

The proposal was one of a number of industry diversity and inclusion recommendations outlined at the workshop as part of the group project assessment task for 2019.

The Melbourne workshop preceded the Annual Fellowship Dinner, a gala event that marked the completion of the program for the ‘class of 2019’ and officially welcomed the sixth intake for 2020.

Throughout the year of Fellowship, RA gives participants the opportunity to work on a project derived from one of our 5 policy streams. This year we decided to tackle diversity and inclusion, which sits across all streams and RA activity but has a particular focus within our Capacity Chapter.

The Fellows were split into six groups and challenged to:

  • use the presentation skills tips as workshopped in May;
  • engage in RA’s policy work to gain knowledge and understanding of a critical national issue;
  • deepen the engagement within their Fellowship and other RA networks; and
  • make a contribution to the growth and development of RA and industry capability.

A key requirement of the task was that final submissions should have real world applicability – eg. recommendations that RA could take forward.

Written reports accounted for 50 per cent of the marks awarded to each group, with the remaining marks being awarded on the strength of verbal presentations at the end-of-year workshop.

This year the highest marks were awarded to Group 2 from NSW, which researched and identified an opportunity to develop a ‘Connecting People’ school toolkit to actively promote a career in transport/infrastructure and embed career advice into school curriculums.

Their report can be found here, along with the other groups’ projects which we are proud to publish to our members.

If you would like to contact us or the Fellows to get more information on the projects please contact hannah@roads.org.au




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